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Ekoplekz
Unfidelity Joe Clay , March 11th, 2014 10:29

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College was supposed to be a brave new world. Get out of Shitsville and the endless nights sitting in lay-bys getting stoned, or doing hot knives and playing darts in mates' garages. Start afresh. Reinvent yourself. Get a fucking life. Instead, most nights I ended up comatose in my friend Marky's box room in the halls of residence with a gang of like-minded wasters, swimming in clouds of thick hash smoke exhaled from a bong constructed from a glass jar and a snorkel. Eyes as red as strawberries in the summertime, we'd duck our heads and avoid eye contact when anyone knocked to see if we were up for a drink at the SU bar, content to sit and fester in the fug, zoning out to headfuck emissions – the weirder the better – from the likes of Coil, Nurse with Wound, Aphex Twin and µ-Ziq, at volumes that made your rib-cage shudder.

Closing my eyes and listening to Unfidelity, the first album for Planet Mu by the Bristol-based musician Nick Edwards aka Ekoplekz, is to be transported back to that place and time. (On the press release, Mu describe the album as a "flashback to the fuggy feeling of a teenage bong intake" – a line I read after I had identified where Unfidelity was taking me.) In fact, those four artists mentioned above aren't a bad reference point for his sound. It's not that Edwards' music is a throwback, but in an era where genres of electronic music are evolving faster than the flu virus, it is comforting to hear something that sounds oddly familiar; rooted in a halcyon era when melody and emotion were valued over technique and wilful deconstruction.

Edwards' all-analogue set-up and use of cheap, DIY units and four-track recorders gives his music a pleasing authenticity. There is a murky, mouldering gloom and paranoia that pervades much of Unfidelity. It's Artificial Intelligence-era Warp remodelled for dank basements and smoke-filled squats, especially on the opener 'Trace Elements', which recalls the alien oddness of Richard D. James under his Polygon Window alias. 'Nerva Beacon' and 'Robert Rental' are sinister slo-mo techno jams, adorned with sudden blurts of crusty noise, stabs of industrial dissonance and pulsing basslines.

The bleeps and measured beats of 'Severn Beach' are underpinned by an oscillating drone, while 'Sea 90' and the white-noise drenched 'Tuning Out' are pure boot-quaking horrortronica. The far-out aquatic ambience of 'Coalpit Heath' recalls Sun Araw at his cosmic best, 'Pressure Level' resonates with dub techno vibes and the squelchy skank of closer 'Sleng Zeng' is the closest Edwards gets to being playful – imagine µ-Ziq composing the theme tune to a low-budget 1970s dystopian sci-fi flick.

In rock, rehashing the past more often than not results in music that sounds anachronistic, but Unfidelity is proof that in electronic music, a disregard for technological progression can still result in a forward-looking album. And just as I found my home in the pungent, smoke-filled confines of Marky's room, so Edwards, who has a formidable back catalogue, has found his on Mike Paradinas' ever-excellent label.

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aaron.
Mar 11, 2014 7:37pm

Listening to this I was struck (and impressed) by how much it sounded like what a certain epochal Planet Mu album 'should' sound like. Goes right for the nostalgia feels.

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Mar 12, 2014 10:47pm

Finally, Edwards gets it right!

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